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Dad died on mountain hike as daughter tried desperately to save him


Christopher Quinn died on Mweelrea when he was hiking with his daughter Emma

Christopher Quinn died on Mweelrea when he was hiking with his daughter Emma

Christopher Quinn died on Mweelrea when he was hiking with his daughter Emma

An experienced Dublin climber who scaled Kilimanjaro collapsed and died on Mayo's highest mountain as his daughter tried desperately to save him.

Christopher Quinn (63), an aircraft engineer, of Hampton Court, Clontarf, was climbing Mweelrea with his daughter Emma when he complained of feeling unwell on September 4, 2019.

An inquest recorded a verdict of death by natural causes after a post-mortem found Mr Quinn died of cardiogenic shock.

In this condition, the heart suddenly cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, due to coronary sclerosis accompanied by physical exertion.


Emma Quinn told Mayo Coroner's Court she and her father were avid hikers and had stayed in Clifden the night before their ascent of the 2,671ft mountain.

They were three hours into the climb when they stopped to take a rest.

Mr Quinn complained of indigestion and within five minutes said he needed to get off the mountain.

"He took five steps and fell back and collapsed," Ms Quinn said.

"He called my name and it was all gurgle coming out of his mouth. I believe he took his last breath there."

She contacted the emergency services and carried out CPR on her father for 40 minutes.

A rescue helicopter attempted to reach them on the mountain but driving wind and rain prevented it from making a safe landing.

Almost four hours passed from the time Ms Quinn called for help and Mountain Rescue volunteers arrived.

Robert Hunt, the team leader with Mayo Mountain Rescue on the day, told coroner Pat O'Connor he received a call at 12.53pm and set up an incident-control unit.

Numerous attempts were made to contact Ms Quinn. The coastguard was unable to assist because of the weather but confirmed the location of the Quinns on the mountain.

At 1.50pm, first responders undertook the climb, reaching the Quinns at 3.30pm.

When they arrived there was no sign of life and rigor mortis had set in.

A full evacuation team brought Mr Quinn off the mountain and he was pronounced dead at 7.44pm.

Consultant pathologist Dr Tamas Nemeth said the cause of death was cardiogenic shock.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, coroner Mr O'Connor recommended people engaging in physical activity have regular medical check-ups.


He said it was apt that an avid climber like Mr Quinn passed away on a mountainside but it was a great shock for his daughter and his wife, who was waiting for them back at the hotel in Clifden.

He commended the gardai, including Garda Colm Boyle and, in particular, Mayo Mountain Rescue.

"We often read about the great work you do and thankfully it doesn't always end in a passing," said the coroner.

"I want to convey the public's thanks for the great work done by the group - it's unenviable but commendable."

Mr Quinn's daughter Emma and wife Maria indicated their support for Mr O'Connor's praise for the emergency services.

The coroner's commendations for the mountain rescue volunteers were also echoed by Sergeant Margaret O'Connor, on behalf of An Garda Siochana.